DocEdge Festival programme bursting with big stories, big personalities, big names
Yes, it's that time of year again! New Zealand's premier documentary showcase, the DocEdge Festival, is back for its 12th year with a selection of amazing films from around the globe.
This year's Doc Edge Festival boasts a programme of impact-making, award-winning feature-length and short films, covering a vast range of human experiences
A selection of highly-acclaimed international documentaries brings stories from India, Syria, Papua New Guinea, America and beyond.
Among these are a number of Israeli / Jewish interest films. They are as follows:
My Hero Brother - director Yonatan Nir
An inspirational and affecting story of a group of Israeli youth on a physically and emotionally demanding trek through the Himalayas with their siblings - the twist - these youth live with Downs Syndrome. Unresolved conflicts and the complexities of growing up with a Down syndrome sibling come to surface as the trek proves to be cathartic for both sets of travellers.
The difficult trials and poignant relationships, set against the richly colourful backdrop of India and culture shock, open new horizons and greatly deepen our understanding of special needs people and their families.
Yonatan Nir will attend the festival in Auckland.
Aida’s Secret - director Alon Schwarz
The lives of two families, one in Canada and the other in Israel begin to unwind and connect with each other in this highly charged universal story of hidden secrets and lies.
Izak and Shepsel were born inside the Bergen-Belsen displaced persons camp in 1945 and sent for adoption in Israel. Separated as babies, neither was told the other existed. An investigation into the mysterious history of their birth family leads to an amazing reunion of the two brothers and their elderly mother after more than six decades.
The film examines identity, resilience, compassion and the plight of displaced persons as Izak and Shep, finally meet in Canada, before heading to a nursing home in Quebec to introduce Shep to his elderly mother, Aida, for the first time. The film offers a rare glimpse into the displaced persons camps which were created in Germany after World War II, showing the vibrant and wild social life that flourished among the young survivors. A period has never been dealt with on the big screen before.
Alon Schwarz will attend the festival in Auckland.
The Wonderful Kingdom of Papa Alaev - directors Tal Barda and Noam Pinchas.
Meet Tajikistan's answer to the Jackson family. Nearly 80, Allo 'Papa' Alaev rules his celebrated folk music clan with an iron tambourine. Beginning with his unilateral decision to emigrate to Israel, the gifted musician micro-manages nearly every aspect of their lives, both on stage and off. From every meal made in his kitchen to what instrument each member will play, the patriarch accepts nothing less than total commitment and obedience. Every child and grandchild lives in their single-family house in Tel Aviv. All but one, that is. His only daughter, Ada, chose her own way in life, a sin her father will not forgive.
As generations clash over new musical directions, competing personal interests and Papa's advancing age, the family show must go on—but who will lead the band? Set to a blazing tribal soundtrack, drama and drumbeats sing out from every entertaining exchange in this grand family affair.
Supergirl – director Jessie Auritt
When a nine-year-old girl breaks a power lifting world record, she turns into an international sensation and 'Supergirl' is born. Naomi Kutin seems like a typical Orthodox Jewish pre-teen, until her extraordinary talent transforms the lives of her family and hurls her into news headlines.
The film follows Naomi’s unique coming-of-age story as she fights to hold on to her title while navigating the perils of adolescence - from strict religious obligations to cyber-bullying, and health issues which could jeopardise her future in power lifting.
Can she still be 'Supergirl' if she can no longer break world records? With a passionate family supporting her each step of the way, Naomi must learn to accept herself and discover she is as strong inside as she is outside.
Jessie Auritt will attend the festival in Wellington and Auckland.
The Last Laugh – director Ferne Pearlstein
Two Jews and a Nazi walk into an Auschwitz bar … what, not funny? Can we make jokes about the Holocaust? Leading comedians can't agree.
In this outrageously funny and thought-provoking film, comedy’s ultimate taboo was put to legends including Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, Sarah Silverman, Gilbert Gottfried, Alan Zweibel, Harry Shearer, Jeff Ross, Judy Gold, Susie Essman, Larry Charles, Jake Ehrenreich, and many other critical thinkers including Deb Filler as well as Holocaust survivors themselves.
A most intriguing conversation emerges over where to draw the line between bad taste and bad jokes, shedding new light on The Soup Nazi, Hogan's Heroes and the entire premise of The Producers. Star-studded, provocative and thoroughly entertaining, the film asks uncomfortable questions about just how free speech can really be, with unexpected and hilarious results. Where do you cross over to bad taste and insensitivity?
New Zealand comedian Deb Filler - who appears in the film - is attending the DocEdge Festival in Auckland and will present The Last Laugh. A Q&A will follow the screenings.
Sacred - director Thomas Lennon
Shot by more than 40 film making teams around the world, the film immerses the viewer in the daily use of faith and spiritual practice. At a time when religious extremism plagues the world’s headlines, this film explores faith as a primary human experience, and how people turn to ritual and prayer to navigate the milestones and crises of private life.
The film’s director commissioned and sourced footage from top independent filmmakers from more than 25 countries – and a wide range of religious traditions – each team contributing a single scene.
Sweeping in its global reach, yet intensely intimate, is a tour de force that unifies these scenes into a single work, told without narration, without experts and, for long stretches, without words at all.
The Mute’s House (short film) - director Tamar Kay
An 8-year-old Palestinian boy and his deaf mother are the last residents of a deserted building in the Israeli part of Hebron.
Joe’s Violin (short film) - director Kahane Cooperman
A Holocaust survivor donates his violin, changing the life of a 12-year old girl living in the Bronx, and unexpectedly his own.
The Doc Edge festival will be held in Wellington (at the Roxy Cinema) from May 10 to 21 and in Auckland (at Q Theatre) from May 24 to June 5.
The opening night film is Whitney, Can I Be Me, the poignant and insightful life story of superstar Whitney Houston by multi-award winning director Nick Broomfield.
And closing the festival is a film on one of New Zealand’s most successful and internationally prominent living painters, Max Gimblett: Original Mind by director Rhy Mitchell.
To view the full DocEdge programme and to make bookings go to http://docedge.nz/festival/#films.